FORT MCMURRAY, AB (January 12, 2013) — Don't call it a rebuild just yet.
Two days after trading two of the team's most talented players, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (22-18-4) put forth one of their best efforts of the year, downing the Grande Prairie Storm 5-3 in front of 1,791 fans at the Casman Centre.
It snapped a three-game losing streak and two game goalless streak for the Barons, while representing the 21st consecutive win for the Oil Barons franchise against the Storm, who haven't beaten the MOB since the 2010 playoffs – and haven't won in Fort McMurray since February of that year.
The team finally snapped its 127 minute goalless streak when Alex Cromwell (McKinney, TX) carried into the Grande Prairie zone on a two-on-one, finding Parker Evans-Campbell (High River, AB) with a perfect pass to set up his eighth goal of the year with a high glove side shot from the slot.
Halfway through the opening frame, the Barons converted on their first powerplay when a point shot by Taylor Graham (Calgary, AB) deflected off of the glove of Storm defenceman Sasha Larocque, then off of MOB forward Hayden Dawes (Stony Plain, AB) and past goaltender Curtis Skip to double the Barons lead.
The Storm cut the deficit in half when leading scorer Gus Correale beat MOB goaltender Ethan Wood (Jasper, AB) on a wrist shot from the slot 4:09 in.
But a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play from Justin Fraser (Hussar, AB) to Mike Marianchuk (Innisfail, AB) at the side of the Storm net, and finally across the crease to Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB) for a one-time goal reclaimed the two-goal lead at the 14:54 mark.
The Storm mounted a fierce comeback early in the third, however, first on a shot from the slot by Ryan Baskerville just 1:42 in, and then at the 3:52 mark, it was Ryan Matthews with a turnaround shot from the right-wing corner that snuck by Wood short-side to knot the game up at 3 goals a piece.
The Barons turned the momentum back around soon after, however, as Dawes scored his second of the game at the 13:47 mark on a five-hole wrist shot from the slot on a 4-on-2 rush.
Fort McMurray drew its second power-play of the game at the 15:12 mark, and just over a minute later, Dawes deflected a puck off of Skip and into the crease, where newcomer Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) knocked it into the yawning cage for his first goal as a Baron for the 5-3 final score.
Dawes' line with newcomers Houcher and Kevin Miller (Stony Plain, AB) racked up a plethora of chances in just their first game together.
On the goaltending side, Wood stopped 22 of 25 shots for his tenth junior A win, while Skip was tagged with the loss while stopping 34 of 39 shots.
The Barons get most of the coming week off before returning to action Friday night at home against the Okotoks Oilers.
Game time is 8:00 with pre-game coverage at 7:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Ryan Matthews (1 goal, 1 assist)
2. Taylor Graham (2 assists)
1. Hayden Dawes (2 goals, 1 assist)